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Instagram Shop has been crowned as a new e-commerce destination. But, is it so for us in India? Are brands here using it to the fullest?

As we near to 2021, there isn’t probably anyone, anything that is not on Instagram – a saviour in disguise in this pandemic! It has no longer stayed for personal use only. 83% of users say Instagram has helped them discover new products and services. 

“With the constant evolution of digital platforms such as Instagram, introducing new features, social media platforms have become a larger eco-system, allowing brands to divide the communication between commercial and brand-led content.” says the in-house experts of Kama Ayurveda, a homegrown luxury beauty and wellness brand.

Instagram enjoys a higher engagement rate than any other social media network now which made the platform to create a more streamlined way for users to discover shoppable products, thus giving birth to ‘Instagram Shop’. The feature saw a drastic shift by users as a direct response to the pandemic and the struggles it has caused for many businesses. Well, social commerce has been quite on the rounds now. 

Instagram Shop India - Kama Ayurveda

The platform needs to be credited for its subtle commercialisation. While the West has picked up on making the content directly shoppable, things seem a little different for the Indian market.

Shopping in India on Instagram:

From luxury to small brands, everyone’s keen on having ‘The Shop’. “What began as an add-on is now definitely a must-have to accelerate growth and sales. Instagram once used to be the platform to showcase your brand offering and tell your story. However, with the Instagram shop feature, the offering showcase has become more wholesome”, remarks Pooja Rajput, Founder and Creative Director of Chidiyaa, an ethnic wear brand known for reimagination of traditional crafts. 

While in the West, one can easily check out the desired products from the platform; in India, it just merely remains as some ‘shoppable tags’ – brands can tag the products displayed in the image with prices, descriptions and direct links to their website. Here, brands already need to have a separate website or some web experience. However, this doesn’t stop a vast market like India make the most of the ‘half’ features available here.

Instagram Shop India

“As a brand that has grown through social media, the Instagram Shop feature has helped us reach customers more easily. People are spending an increasingly significant time on social media, and it is an exciting way for people to come across new brands. The loyal client base that we usually have goes through the normal process of placing an order on the website as the shop feature does the same, just redirection. It is a new and upcoming avenue which is also a great way for brands to grow by being discovered through mentions and tags.”, shares Supriya Arora Malik, Founder of Indulgeo Essentials, an organic, vegan beauty label. 

The pandemic has accelerated the growth of online shopping exponentially in India. Known for its user-friendly interface, it now stands as an important way to build a new client base for brands. Because of the aesthetic content creators and influencers, people also attach an element of trust with the platform.

The Knight In Shining Armour? :

Instagram has now found a way to show users more of what they’re highly likely to buy — all based on previous engagement, the posts and brands people follow. “This has helped us gain a lot of new customers who find our page through mentions and tags. It has increased our customer base most definitely and increased the simplicity of shopping online.”, shares Supriya.

Brands have always been an important part of the Instagram community. Apart from creating awareness, Indian brands of varying scales have been able to drive sales, garner leads and conversions just from the shoppable tags itself.

Instagram Shop India - Indulgeo Essentials

“The IG shop has added to the online sales channel – facilitating the process of easy browsing. The number of price request queries have reduced significantly as our customers now have all the information they need in one tap of their screens. The direct link to the product page saves them time and energy- something that is imperative with the fleeting attention span of people browsing on social media. There is a good number of conversions directly from the feature as it facilitates the ‘impulse buy’ seamlessly.”, Miss Pooja Rajput opens up. The feature has proved particularly fruitful during the COVID months when her brand’s physical presence- usually pop-ups and exhibitions- has been minimal.

Supriya also adds a valid point, “The conversion is a simple process and includes our entire catalogue of products. While a customer is shopping for one particular product, they have an option to browse through the rest of our products too which increases further interest and intrigue into the brand.”

On-Board With IG Shop:

Instagram Shop India

The IG Shop feature works differently for different segments of brands, thereby becoming an important touchpoint in every brand’s consumer journey. “The rising discovery of the platform, along with reviews and a network of influencers enhances the consumer journey, making new discoveries all the more enjoyable and accessible.”, explains Kama Ayurveda’s in-house experts. 

Since brands can tag the shoppable products displayed in the image, there involves a selected curation of creative content that highlights the brand’s language both authentically and profitably. Most try to increase the visual appeal in an aesthetically pleasing mode, giving multiple side views of the product – one that may have been compromised in a regular e-commerce platform.

Sharing more on this, Supriya says, “We regularly post reviews and client feedback to make our Instagram Shop a one-stop destination. Our posts have always been product-centric, many times highlighting the actual texture of the product. We truly believe in only posting clear and clean shots of our products while maintaining aesthetics.”

Instagram Shop India - Chidiyaa

Pooja adds here, “We at Chidiyaa have always been very real with the kind of images that we post on our social media pages. A lot of behind the scenes, workshop pictures/videos and customers wearing a Chidiyaa outfit are posted, with the central aim being to curate content that portrays us in the most authentic manner. We believe these are more relatable and tell a story of simplicity and genuinity and hence, have worked for us. It is easier for one to complete a transaction while just browsing through the platform.”

What Instagram Is Missing In India:

As of October 2020, Indian Instagram audience accounts for 120 million, just 20 million less than that of the US. Be it from any part of the world, the Instagram Shop feature is coveted by both small and big brands to promote sales at this time. Most parts of the Western countries can avail the feature, however, countries like ours fall short in this.

For a market such as India, the possibilities of this feature are endless and the power it holds here – it can drive potential sales of many upcoming and established brands. While the platform was very quick to introduce ‘reels’ in India in lieu of a potential gap created by the ban of Tik-Tok, the ‘Shop’ somewhat stands as a failed lookalike of social commerce. In the spirit of adapting, new reforms in the west include allowing masses who have access to Instagram’s shopping tools to tag their products and sell on IGTV, creating a profit path for businesses and influencers. 87% of people say that influencers inspire them when purchasing a product.

Instagram Shop India - Indulgeo Essentials

Supriya wishes, “Instead of redirection, having a simple checkout option with address and card details saved could be one way to make it easier for people to shop and also encourage them to shop. Instagram should have a featured shop section where people can sort through different types of shoppable accounts and people can sort through that category wise according to their interests.”

In these tough times, Instagram should have been quick in asserting all of the ‘shop’ features in the Indian market, as they have been with ‘reels’. Along with introducing stickers, if brands here could avail the options enjoyed in the west, this would make a two-way profit scene – both for the platform and the brands.

But for now, the ‘Instagram Shop’ only acts as a digital catalogue, missing out on participation, support and sales from many potential customers and businesses here. 

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